Examination of Witnesses

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:40 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Will Tanner:

The area where I think the Committee could make a real difference is around the levelling-up missions and the overarching framework around the Bill. I am not sure the Minister will necessarily thank me for saying this, but I think the reporting requirements and the architecture around the levelling-up missions could be strengthened considerably in two primary ways.

First, we have seen through the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Climate Change Committee the importance and strength of an independent body to hold the Government to account for delivering against its own targets, and I think the levelling-up missions would benefit from that level of scrutiny and accountability. At the moment there is a bit of a risk of the Government setting out its own interpretation of progress rather than us having an independent view. Bluntly, the Government should welcome that as a way of ensuring that the whole of Government is driving towards the same end. There is a bit of a risk at the moment that the Department for Levelling Up becomes the sole vehicle for driving levelling-up policy.

In a second but similar way, I think there is a missed opportunity in terms of not aligning that reporting framework against a Treasury set of fiscal events. Ultimately, levelling up is so interdependent with tax and spend policy that if the Treasury is reporting at different times, particularly around changing tax measures or making large public spending decisions through the spending review, there is the risk that levelling up falls through the cracks of the way the Government makes major decisions, rather than being completely aligned as a whole of Government mission, as I understand both the Prime Minister and the entirety of Government believe it to be. That would be my systemic change.